Cancer patients, nearly a quarter of them are beginning to lose faith in the
National Health Survey (NHS) as they are forced to visit their General Physician
at least three times before they are referred for diagnostic tests.
Cancer Research UK scientists from University College London and the
University of Cambridge say that many cancer patients are dissatisfied by their
care and are losing confidence in doctors and nurses who go on to treat them.
Researchers studied data from 70,000 patients and found that out of the
60,000 people who were diagnosed through their GP, nearly 13,300 had been seen
three or more times before they were referred for cancer tests.
Nearly one in five were dissatisfied with how medical staff broke the news
that they had cancer. 40 percent were also unhappy with the communication
between hospital staff and their GP. More than one in 10 felt that information
had been deliberately withheld from them during their treatment, while 32 percent
said they lacked confidence and trust in ward nurses.
"This research shows that first impressions go a long way in determining how
cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment," said study author
Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos from UCL.
"Last month the National Institute
for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it would issue family doctors with a
checklist of symptoms to help them spot cancer for the first time in a bid to
prevent at least half of needless deaths."
Doctors have been told they must fast-track patients with signs like
tiredness or unexplained bruises for urgent tests within 48 hours.
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK's GP expert, said: "It's important we
now step up efforts to ensure potential cancer symptoms can be investigated
promptly, such as through the new NICE referral guidelines launched last month
to give GPs more freedom to quickly refer patients with worrying symptoms."
Almost half of cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when treatment is
less likely to work.
Sara Hiom, Director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, added:
"This is the first time we've had direct feedback from patients on such a large
scale to show how the timeliness of their diagnosis colors their experience of
the care they later receive."
"It's another good reason to highlight the importance of diagnosing
cancer as quickly as possible, not just to give patients the best chances of
survival, but also to improve their experience of the care they receive
throughout their cancer journey."